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Matt Savoca’s Week 8 Daily Fantasy Football Matchups Breakdown Column

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Matt Savoca's game-by-game breakdowns of the Week 8 daily fantasy football slate for NFL DFS lineups on DraftKings + FanDuel + Yahoo.

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Daily Fantasy Football Matchups: San Francisco 49ers (25.5) at Seattle Seahawks (28.5)

San Francisco Passing Game

The NFC champion 49ers breezed through the Patriots on Sunday with little resistance, reaching a 75% win probability by midway through the second quarters and never dipping below that point for the rest of the afternoon. As is typical for this offense, the explosive plays happened on the ground more than the air, but that didn’t stop Jimmy Garoppolo from having a more-than-respectable day as a passer. With the help of coach Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers continue to put his receivers in position for huge plays after the catch week after week, and last Sunday was no different as Garoppolo completed 80% of his 25 attempts for 277 yards on just 160 air yards, good for a staggeringly high 11.1 yards per attempt and a passer air conversion ratio (PACR) of 1.73. Since his week 5 (possibly injury-related) benching in Miami, Garoppolo has been superb, ranking eighth in the NFL in expected points added per game and second in PACR. He’s back as the undisputed leader of a low-volume, high-efficiency offense but will certainly be playing at more of a disadvantage this week, with wideout Deebo Samuel looking likely to sit this weekend with a hamstring strain and standout back Jeff Wilson landing on IR and joining Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert.

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The injuries likely have a small silver lining for fantasy gamers, as the most likely result of the diminished weaponry is a concentration of targets toward all-world tight end George Kittle and first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk. Kittle had an unspectacular day (for his standards) last Sunday, hauling in five of his seven targets for 55 yards, which hurt fantasy gamers who chose to take on his TE1 salary in DFS. But no one should be hesitant about going back to the well with Kittle, who is just one game removed from a 10-target game and could easily have a slate-breaking score against a Seattle passing defense that has been trounced by No. 1 options in opponent’s passing games (worst against top wideouts in schedule-adjusted fantasy points) and ranks well below average in yards allowed per pass attempt.

Aiyuk tied for the team lead in targets a week ago and led the team in air yards by a wide margin, clearly being utilized as a the team’s downfield threat even with Samuel on the field (Samuel actually wound up with negative air yards in both week 6 and 7). The issue for Aiyuk this weekend isn’t matchup or expected opportunity. It’s salary, as the wideout is now the 19th-highest-salary receiving on the main slate. Comparatively, the Awesemo projections aren’t nearly as high on Aiyuk as the salary (which is inflated due to matchup) would suggest. Nonetheless, as a big play threat in a resurgent offense, Aiyuk absolutely has a chance for 20-plus points on Sunday afternoon. Kittle has the top tight end salary on the slate, and deservingly so. There are absolutely game-flow scenarios (particularly if Russell Wilson is dealing on the other side) where the 49ers are forced out of their run-first way and choose to move the ball in small chunks via short passes to the running backs and to Kittle. A 15-target game isn’t out of the realm of possibilities here either. It will take some salary finagling at other positions, but finding a way to get Kittle in your daily fantasy football lineups makes a ton of sense this weekend. The Awesemo projections wholeheartedly agree with Kittle’s No. 1 tight end salary. Fit him into lineups wherever you can.

With Samuel out, the 49ers will likely call on Kendrick Bourne, who’s played on just 51% of snaps over San Francisco’s last two games and only saw four looks in the passing game. With so many of the 49er’s typical short-area targets (Mostert, Wilson, Samuel) unavailable, however, expect Bourne to see an uptick in usage, which could absolutely make him a value play as the 59th-highest-salary wide receiver on the main slate. You won’t be alone in that bet, however, as Bourne is projected for nearly 11% ownership, the seventh highest among all wide receivers. He appears to be the low-salary wideout “flavor of the week,” which doesn’t necessarily make playing him a bad move, it just means fantasy gamers need to be aware when taking a bet on Bourne. You’ll be making that bet with many others, so you’ll need to differentiate your lineup in some other way.


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San Francisco Rushing Game

With the stalwarts of the 49ers rushing attack ailing, the San Francisco backfield becomes about as straightforward as it’s been in years, with only two healthy halfbacks heading into week 8. A week ago, Wilson and Kyle Juszczyk saw the highest snap counts (56% each) at running back, with rookie Jamycal Hasty next in line at 23%. This came as a shock to fantasy gamers who expected much more production from Jerick McKinnon, but even with the continued injuries (Wilson, Samuel) around him, don’t expect McKinnon to suddenly have a spike in playing time. The 49ers staff clearly has an interest in limiting McKinnon’s hits (keeping McKinnon “fresh,” as they’ve called it), which indicates a bulk of the between-the-tackles carries will fall on the rookie Hasty. That is, unless Coleman can return to the field, which beat writers in the Bay Area are suggesting. If Coleman’s still a week away, Hasty becomes an interesting flyer option at just a $5,000 salary, 27th among running backs. If Coleman’s back in the fray, the running options for the 49ers, despite an expectation that they’ll get plenty of usage, might be a solid stay-away option as San Francisco sorts through the position. The Awesemo projections suggest Coleman, if he plays, could be a solid flier at very low ownership.

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Seattle Passing Game

The Seahawks suffered their first defeat of the season last Sunday with an excruciating overtime loss to the division-rival Cardinals. It was also the first down-game of the season (in a real football sense) for Wilson, as he threw three interceptions in a game for the first time since 2017 and p0sted his lowest expected points added totals of the season as well. But the fantasy football production remained stellar, as Wilson threw 50 times with an average depth of target north of 9 (which led to him leading all quarterbacks in total air yards) and ended the game with 388 passing yards and three touchdowns, good enough for the fifth-highest fantasy output among all quarterbacks in week 7. Next up, he gets the 49ers defense, which is still not healthy in the secondary, but it has managed to rate well above average in yards allowed per attempt, points allowed per play and PFF’s team coverage rating. This is by no means an easy matchup for Wilson, and it could certainly give fantasy gamers pause when rostering the second-highest-salary quarterback on the main slate. The Awesemo projections don’t see Wilson as a full fade this week, but they’re certainly not as bullish as his salary-based expectation indicates.

In the midst of the Seahawks’ race to keep pace with the Cardinals, Tyler Lockett scorched the earth with 15 receptions (on an astounding 20 targets) for 200 yards and three touchdowns, good for an unbelievable 56 fantasy points on DraftKings. It was the type of slate-breaking score fantasy gamers knew Wilson and Lockett had in their back pocket. And in week 7 the game flow called for it, as D.K. Metcalf was being shut down for the most part by Patrick Peterson. The massive opportunity for Lockett shifted the season-long averages in terms of true weighted opportunity share so that Lockett now appears as the primary wide receiver in most statistical categories, but savvy fantasy gamers know that the 1A and 1B receivers on the Seahawks vary situationally. In fact, Metcalf had seen more targets than Lockett in the Seahawks’ last two contests prior to week 7, and he had seen more air yards than Lockett in the last three.

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The issue in week 8, however, is less about opportunity or matchup but about salary, as both players are priced up in a way that indicates this is a plus matchup for receivers and quarterbacks. The issue here is that it isn’t. While Wilson certainly has the ability and the weaponry to overcome a tough defensive squad like the 49ers, there’s not enough of a guarantee (for any of the trio) that they will have their way through the air to justify either player’s exorbitant salaries. Metcalf, inexplicably, is the second-highest-salary wide receiver on the slate, and Lockett is fifth. Simply, these salaries make no sense. Again, being mispriced doesn’t mean that the player won’t be worthwhile for fantasy gamers, it just means that the margin for error when rostering those players is nonexistent. Metcalf needs 23-plus fantasy points to be a value at his salary, and Lockett needs 21, making him the slightly better value on Sunday. But both are extremely risky propositions and require difficult decision making in other areas of your daily fantasy football lineups this weekend.

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Fantasy gamers wishing to look for other options in the passing game could utilize David Moore, who’s seen 65-plus air yards from Wilson in two of the team’s last three games, or Will Dissly, who saw a season-high four targets in week 7 and has out targeted Greg Olsen over the past three weeks. They’re both razor-thin plays, but at $3,100 and $2,800, respectively, both offer extremely affordable access to Wilson’s offense. Seattle has a chance to produce the most fantasy points on any given slate, as we saw in week 7, and provides maximum optionality for the rest of your fantasy lineup.

Seattle Rushing Game

Week 7 was a costly loss for the Seahawks rushing attack. Chris Carson is now week-to-week with a mid-foot sprain, and backup Carlos Hyde isn’t 100% either, dealing with what coach Pete Carroll called a tight hamstring. Carson will almost certainly miss this week, and possibly more time, but Hyde seems more likely to play (as of midweek), which would make him an enticing value play as the 23rd-highest-salary running back on the main slate. Hyde hasn’t been particularly productive this season, but functioning as the primary back in the Seahawks juggernaut offense will inevitably lead to quality opportunities (receiving game work and goal-line work). It’s possible that Travis Homer will eat into Hyde’s opportunities even if both are active, but Awesemo projections are currently only high on one Seahawks runner this weekend, and that’s Hyde. He’s an excellent choice, assuming he starts, at just a $5,300 salary on the main slate.

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Prediction: Seahawks 31, 49ers 30.

Return to the main Week 8 Matchups Breakdown page.

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A middling athlete who was offered his first sports analytics position at age 14, I've been working on NFL and fantasy football data science since 2017. With a particular passion for data visualization and dashboard building, I love to make data accessible by using graphs and charts to communicate ideas that are difficult to explain with words alone. You can contact me by e-mailing [email protected]

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